Plastic bag levy to be introduced in England – but not until 2015
Following much speculation late last week Nick Clegg confirmed on Saturday that England is to follow Wales and Northern Ireland in introducing a 5p levy on single-use plastic bags. However, the charge will not be introduced until after the 2015 election.
Customers will be charged 5p at the point of purchase for each bag used, a move the Prime Minister had hinted at earlier this month. The levy will only apply to supermarkets and larger stores employing more than 250 staff and all proceeds will be donated to charity.
The move has been broadly welcomed by both environmentalists and the retail sector. However, the timescale of the charge has been criticised by some quarters as the measures are already proving successful in Wales and Northern Ireland and Scotland will introduce the charge next year.
Friends of the Earth policy and campaigns director Craig Bennett said: “A plastic bag charge is welcome news, but let’s not get carried away. This small step will do little to tackle the nation’s huge waste mountain and can’t disguise the Government’s woeful green record. Tougher action and ambitious targets are needed to cut waste and boost recycling, and bring England in line with the rest of the UK and much of Europe. If Nick Clegg wants to champion the environment he must do much better – starting by allowing Lib Dem peers to back a 2030 target for decarbonising the power sector when the Energy Bill reaches the House of Lords.”